My Green Velvet Life

Where everything sticks.



Trashy Greetings

Not feeling too creative or clever lately.  Typically, this time of year is a bit blah in Wisconsin. Although this year we have been treated with greenery and blooms busting forth well before Easter, my mood is stubbornly sitting on the blah side.  I guess my internal clock really loves how gray afternoons and icy mud puddles seem to nod approval to laziness, quiet reflection, and even a bit of indulgent self-pity.

Okay I’m really not here to trash our beautiful spring.  But I am here to talk about trash. I love saving strange bits of garbage in hopes of discovering and sharing their fantastic artistic potential. Here are a few greeting cards I’ve made the last few weeks. Each one is just a bit trashy and a great big easy. (Notice some of the elements are simply stapled together. Because sometimes I’m too lazy to glue.)

This “black vase” is wrinkled-up paper from a bag of coffee. (Hint: Berres Brothers makes the yummiest coffee and the coolest waxy black packaging.)

This “silver vase” is a piece of cream cheese wrapping. A bit messy to wash but so worth it. And you guessed it. My beloved painted cardboard too.

This “silver vase” is a bit of shiny cardboard from a package of face lotion. I wrinkled it for a fun effect.

This blue background is from one of my favorite art trash resources: a Mentos candy wrapper.  This gorgeous material is always a hit with the kids. (The candy is a hit with the kids too.)

And this “brown vase”is from a Starbucks coffee cup wrapper.  It’s so nubby I’m gonna die!

Now go forth and have your own trashy fun!

Cheap Easter Fun

Don’t throw away those pretty foil candy wrappers! Use them to make these colorful crosses with the kids on Easter afternoon:

  • White school glue (and a plastic lid or disposable container for your glue)
  • Foil candy wrappers – a mix of colors is the most fun
  • Wooden Popsicle sticks
  • Fat paint brushes  or just use your fingers (we did and it worked better than the brushes)
  • Large plastic bag or packaging to work on (plastic is nice because it won’t stick to your project)
  • Wet paper towels or baby wipes.
  • Optional: magnets to put on back.
  • Eat candy.
  • Save your wrappers, smoothing them flat (this is a little tough for preschoolers).
  • Tear wrappers into little strips or whatever shapes you like.
  • Stick your brush or fingers into the glue, then, one at a time, smear over strips and press onto 2 wooden sticks .  It doesn’t matter if you get glue on both sides of the wrappers.  It’s messy, but the glue dries clear.
  • Once the sticks are decorated, glue them together to form a cross.
I made these with my five-year old grandson.  He loved it, but it was difficult for him to press the wrappers all the way.  I helped him a bit, and then quickly decided his looked great even if not perfectly pressed down.
Your fingers will be full of glue!  But clean-up is easy.

Have a blessed Easter!


Visitors from Planet Shinius

As a follow-up to my recent post Thriftie Gifties, my grandkids are very excited to share their ideas for used bags.  We even roped in my almost 12-year-old grandson.  Most of the materials we used were recycled but we also added pipe cleaners and sticky back foam shapes (which stuck very well).  The cute hair strips and shiny ears are pieces of packaging stapled onto the bags.  Stapling worked really well for edges where little fingers can’t reach on the inside.  The pipe cleaners were simply punched through  the material.  Ideally, you could push the pipe cleaner through one hole and push it out through a second hole, then tie or curl.  Most of these, however, were simply twisted on the inside to stay–not recommended for little hands.

Thriftie Gifties – dedicated to Mom.

Out of clutter find SIMPLICITY.
From discord find HARMONY.
In the middle of difficulty lies OPPORTUNITY.
     — Albert Einstein (1879-1955), US (German-born) physicist

I don’t want to scare you away by saying the word “crafts”.  I am really not a crafty person at all.  Not artistic either.  I am actually quite sloppy and in many ways even impatient.  This is exactly why I love organizing, cleaning and poetry.  I can find simplicity in the midst of chaos.   And the coolest thing about it is that in the process of finding simplicity, I am being creative.  I am creating simplicity.  A basic statement, but really think about it.  Creating simplicity!

What does all of this have to do with my Thriftie Gifties title and my mom?  When I was in grade school, I was invited to quite the shin-dig of a birthday party, at least it was in those olden times.  (I am almost 50 in case you’re wondering.)  The entire class was invited and they even had a clown for entertainment.  My very busy mom of eight (last baby brother not yet born) somehow managed to buy a lovely, modest gift for my birthday friend.  I don’t remember a thing about the gift, but what my mom did with it stuck with me forever.  We had no wrapping paper in the house.  I was mortified.  My mom went to the messy stack of newspapers in the corner of the living room and pulled out the funnies.  By then I was in tears.  She assured me it was a very neat idea.  I did not believe her.  I hated her.  Of course I had no choice but to nervously march into the party with my ridiculous funnies-wrapped package.  What did all the kids say?  I don’t even remember (because they probably didn’t even notice).  I do remember being mad at my mom for a long time.  Yet . . . deep down . . . just a little . . . I was proud that my mom was so darn smart!

Well of course she was smart.  Wouldn’t our parents and grandparents be rolling their eyes at how nowadays we “re-purpose” our old bath towels, etc. and then write glamorous blogs about it?  I’m sure many people have used nothing but newspaper for wrapping paper all their lives.  Simple ingenuity has always just been about playful common sense.  It’s there for everybody.  A game we can all play.

So in memory of my mom and all of our smart elders, I’m sharing some fun gift bags you can make for absolutely free.  A reminder that I am a bit sloppy and impatient.  I am happy getting the idea but not so much making it look perfect.   If my amazing, artistic daughters would have been in charge of this project we’d have Martha Stewart squirming.  Tonight you’re stuck with just me.  But that’s okay.  I’ve shared the simple idea and hopefully thrown in a few harmonic thoughts.  Just do your own thing.  Decorate with magazine cut-outs or search the junk drawer for string and doo-dads.  Whatever.  It’s now your opportunity . . .

Save, wash and dry all kinds of paper/foil/plastic bags.  (This drives my hubby crazy!)  You’ll need to turn them inside out, unless you want to be super funky and leave as is.

For bows and ribbons, you can use almost anything.  I am fond of cutting (or just tearing as I did here) pieces from the ends of bags.  May not be very strong though so be careful when tying.  The best thing ever is large dog food bags.  The material is super sturdy and looks cool too.

For bows, just scrunch the material, then tie with whatever.

Use the fun dog picture or turn it over for silver.

Stryofoam sheets from shipped products is fun stuff to.  I made a bow but it ended up looking a little strange.

Oops I think it’s a headless angel (an idea for future post?)

Purple bow helped a little (or is it now a headless angel with a purple bow?)

Okay hopefully by now you get the idea!

Bits and pieces of fascinating possibilities.

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